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Statement by President Michael D. Higgins on the death of Sam Nolan

Date: Mon 15th Apr, 2024 | 18:08

“With the passing of Sam Nolan, the Trade Union Movement, the Labour Movement and the entire Left has lost an outstanding figure who played an important role in so many of the key campaigns of the last 70 years.

Sam Nolan combined his activism with a substantial knowledge of, and interest in, the history of the workers’ struggle and the forces with which it had to contend.

One of the things which I will remember most about Sam is that he was both so well read on the history of socialism – indeed Brian Kenny’s book on Sam’s life ‘A Long March on the Left’ notes that by his late teens Sam was already deeply familiar with James Connolly’s ‘Labour in Irish History’ and ‘Labour, Nationality and Religion’ – but also was so connected to such an activism that there wasn’t a week that went by that he wasn’t working on the ground.

Sam Nolan was to the forefront of the most important struggles of his lifetime, be it highlighting the consequences of the unemployment of the 1950s, to winning the 40 hour week in the 1960s, and for Trade Union recognition, the anti-apartheid campaign, and human and democratic rights for women and men all across the world.

In the 1950s and in later decades, this was not an easy road and Sam Nolan fought for these vital rights while being at times confronted with great hostility.

He will be warmly remembered for his lifetime of activism and advocacy, for his work in the Dublin Regional Council of the Labour Party, the Dublin Housing Action Committee, the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, the Union of Construction Trades and Technicians, the Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Finglas Cabra Partnership and so many more roles besides.

Sam Nolan made an immense political contribution first through the Communist Party of Ireland and later through the Labour Party, where he was appreciated as a most loyal and consistent of comrades.

May I express my deepest condolences to Sam’s partner Helena Sheehan, to his children Brent, Mark, Conor, Paula and Aileen and all of his extended family, and to his many friends, colleagues and comrades across the trade union movement and beyond.”